Mar 122014
 
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I didn’t go to college after high school, although I took all the college prep classes. There were many reasons for this, chief among them a well-meaning but ineffectual guidance counselor with a cool new toy.

He plunked me down at a computer (with dual floppies – this was 1985) and had me run a search for colleges I might like. Once I had excitedly narrowed down my choices to my top 3 it started asking questions about my parents finances that I had no real knowledge of. At the time all I knew was that my dad, a welder, hadn’t had steady work since the iron belt became the rust belt, and my mom worked in the kitchen of a nursing home to pay the bills. So, I guessed on the answers.

You can imagine my shock when this shiny new program informed me that my parents would be expected to contribute $30,000 a year to my education. They didn’t even make that a year. I went through the process again, choosing different colleges, and changing my parents’ info. Same result every time.

What I didn’t understand at the time was this cool new program was extremely limited. It only had Ivy League colleges and was designed for families that could afford them. It also made no mention of financial aid, scholarships, grants or any other forms of financing. All I knew that all my dreams of going to college were just that…dreams…because my parents weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination.

So in typical ‘me’ fashion, I gave up. I sank into a depression, and my grades fell through the floor. This was complicated further by the death of both my paternal grandparents within a couple months of each other. At one point I even contemplated ending it all. Afterall, if I had no future what was the point of sticking around for it. I didn’t really want to die, however, so in a cry for help I wrote the following poem for an English assignment.

the tree is dead inside
not dead dying
dead uncaring
there is no hope
and no tomorrow

Naturally, this resulted in my being pulled into the office for a talk. I opened up enough to my teacher that she helped with some of my depression, but I never did tell her the real reason for it. I let her believe it was too much death in a short span of time, and she helped me with a little grief therapy. It wasn’t everything I needed, but it was enough to keep me going.

Fast forward nearly 30 years, past working 10 years at a library, getting married, and having children. In short…living. Along the way I finally learned about financial aid and ways of paying for school that my guidance counselor never explained aside from a pro forma checklist we filled out. I yearned to go back to school but the time was never right. After a while I started thinking maybe I was too old now, but my maternal grandmother was always in the back of my mind when that thought came to call. She graduated college at 56. She didn’t let a little thing like age stop her from doing what she wanted.

So, last August I abruptly decided it was time. I was going back to school. The kids were old enough I didn’t need to constantly supervise them. I wasn’t working outside the home. And my writing was something I could work around.

I contacted Southern New Hampshire University thinking I could start in January. That would give me time to fill out the paperwork, go through admissions, and get my financial aid in order. I was wrong. All the long awaited pieces of my educational journey fell into place and within 5 days of applying I was taking my first class. It was a whirlwind of fate that still shocks me at times.

So here I am in my third term, pursuing a double major of History and Accounting/Finance. And while I may complain about some of the papers I have to write, I’m loving every moment of it.

Whatever your dream, it’s never to late. Reach out and make them happen. You won’t be sorry.

May 162013
 
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It’s no secret I spend a lot of time on Facebook. More than I probably should considering I homeschool my kids, am a writer, have a typical marriage and a home to maintain.

All that’s beside the point, though. Today I want to talk about a recent event that happened on FB.

I was invited to join a new group of writers. I’m always looking for fresh information on how to be a better writer, tips on how to sell more books and it’s nice to interface with like-minded people so I didn’t hesitate to accept.

Unfortunately, this group didn’t have the like-minded people I had hoped for. I soon found out their philosophy and mine WIDELY diverged when it came to things like padding numbers and what I call ‘gaming the system’.

Last year it was common for authors to have what they called ‘Liking and tagging’ parties. Everyone in the party would rush over to Amazon and “like” and “tag” each others books so it looked like those books were wildly popular and therefore move up the bestseller lists.

Amazon, understandably, didn’t like this so they removed tags and likes.

Authors then started ‘review’ parties. “You write me a good review and I’ll write you one!” Some even paid for good reviews. Once again wanting their books on bestseller lists.

Amazon, understandably, didn’t like this either so they removed a TON of author generated reviews. This caused all sorts of heartache and panic in the author community. Legitimate reviews were tossed as well as the bogus ones. Authors went from dozens or even hundreds of reviews to mere handfuls. It was pretty ugly.

(I may have the two events backwards in terms of timing but you get the gist of what I’m getting at here, right?)

After those two events I decided such ‘shady’ practices do more harm than good and I wouldn’t participate in stuff like that. Go me, right?

FF to this new group I joined. Someone made a post asking for likes for a 5-star review he’d just gotten. I was a bit taken aback when not only did the group owner not say “Uh guys this isn’t a good idea” but actively participated.

So what does my dumb self do? I make the statement that activities such as liking reviews is what caused Amazon to remove likes and tags and also caused the great review removal mess.

What did I get in response? People jumping on me and the group owner flat out telling me that it’s just ‘helping a friend’ so it didn’t mean anything.

At that point I left the group. Helping a friend is promoting their work, encouraging them, and passing along helpful tips. It’s NOT helping them or anyone else when you try to skew things in their favor with dishonest reviews and likes.

Apr 022013
 
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I love sunroofs. I’d forgotten how much until our new Expedition came with one. We opened it up this morning and it was instant happiness.

Instantly it was all the endless summer days of my childhood again. Sunshine filtered through leaves. A warm breeze. The faint scent of manure from the garden.

All it needed was a watermelon that had been cooled in the stream.

 Posted by at 10:20 am
Sep 162012
 
CelebratingWomanhood300

It’s not the clothes she wears

or the cut of her hair.

It’s not the job she does

or the child she was.

Its the look in her eyes

so calm and so wise.

That makes her a woman.

It’s the confidence to say

at the end of the day

‘I did it my way

and that’s perfectly okay

I may not have been right

but I’ll sleep good tonight.’

For I am a woman.

 

 

 

Hosted by Living, Learning, and Loving Life, Cabin Goddess, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave, Tea With Dee, and alchemyofscrawl.
“These days it seems that some people want us to be ashamed of being women. They want us to believe that we’re less: less intelligent, less important, less human. There is so much negativity out there. For one day, we want to flood the internet with positive messages about women. On September 16, 2012 we’re going to write positive blog posts about women, and we invite you to join us.”

May 232012
 

Call me old, or out of touch, or whatever the latest slang is for people like me. It’s ok. I have kids, I’m used to it.

But I just don’t get twitter.

It all seems like a jumble of links to me. Read this article! This book is on sale! This picture is so funny!

Why fill your tweets with links that take people away when you’re trying to connect with them? Seems counterproductive to me. Sure it might gain you a little name recognition if people like what you’re linking but I’d rather engage with people.

As it stands, though, it’s just a lot of electronic noise.

Sure you may respond to or retweet the rare item that catches your eye, but finding those gems among the flotsam and detritus that accumulates there is a matter of luck. You could spend hours watching the feed and see nothing interesting. And who really has the time for that?

So yeah, I just don’t get twitter. Can someone explain it to me?

 Posted by at 8:33 pm
May 122012
 

Lost in wrappings
tossed in boxes
packed with books
toys and sockses

placed on a truck
bounced down the street
cradled in arms
dropped on feet

we’re your belongings
your everythings
gadgets and furniture
clothing and swings

Open us gently
see us anew
yes, there’s that thing
hiding inside a shoe

 Posted by at 11:51 pm
Mar 292012
 
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Being an indie writer is a lot like homeschooling your children.

If you homeschool, you are met with derision, suspicion, outright hostility at times. There’s a (false) perception that you are ruining your children and they’ll not be able to hold their own in situations involving ‘properly socialized’ public school kids.

The homeschool community is filled with some of the most helpful, insightful and kind people, however. They’re extremely willing to share curriculum ideas, helpful tips, or just be a shoulder when things get rough.

The contrast can be startling at times. Which is probably why homeschool parents form support groups. It can feel awfully alone at times, and non-homeschoolers don’t know I put just as much planning and thought into my children’s curriculum as any ‘real’ teacher, with less approbation for my dedication and knowledge. As much as I’d like to (and contrary to knowledgeable belief), I don’t sit around and do nothing all day.

The same can be said of indie publications. The same derision, suspicion and outright hostility. The same condescension and barely veiled snobbery denigrating my choice to publish independently. In some people’s eyes, I’ll never be a ‘real’ author without a horribly restrictive contract from major publishing house and my writing will never be as good as (insert famous author’s name here).

But, by the same token, the indie community is as amazing as the homeschool community. So many people willing to pass along their hard won knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. Suggestions, encouragement, kudos and commiseration. They’ve been through it and understand what it takes to put out the best work you can. It takes just as much effort to create a good book as it does any worthwhile project. Believe it or not, you can’t just throw any pile of crap against the Amazon wall and expect it to come out smelling like roses. It just doesn’t work that way.

So here’s to the independent thinkers in both my worlds. The ones who don’t think “I can’t” or “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be done” but go out and do it their way. Love you guys.